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Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, VA Day Hike

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This hike occured on Saturday, March 2, 2019. Participants were Tom O'Brien, Suzanne Butterfield, Steve Butterfield, Dave McIntyre, Mike Kilby, Cubmaster Tim Young, 4 scouts, 3 scout dads and Mike Calabrese.

We pulled it off but this hike was a challenge in 2 areas: First, the weather was uncertain. But we managed to get this one in between two potential snow storms; Second, there were numerous trail closures at this refuge that forced us to basically re-plan this hike on the fly.

I met Tom, Dave, Suzanne and Steve at the Prince of Peace United Methodist Church parking lot. We left promptly at 8:00 AM and carpooled to the refuge. We arrived at around 8:35 and met Tim Young and various scouts and parents from Cub Scout Pack 1373. Also at the refuge was Mike Kilby, whom I gratuated with from Washington-Lee (now Liberty) high school back in 1972. We hadn't seen each other in over 40 years. We had a total crew of 14 for this hike.

This refuge, a former government facility that did electromagnetic pulse testing, was mostly gravel and dirt roads that were reverting back to trails. I had originally planned to hike this one clockwise by taking the following sequence of roads: Wildlife DR->Charlie RD->Delta RD->Deephole Point RD->Dawson Beach RD and back to our vehicles.

But we had to quickly change those plans because Wildlife DR and Charlie RD were closed due to a nesting pair of bald eagles near the intersection of Wildlife Road and Charlie RD. So we decided to do this hike counterclockwise instead. We started off walking Dawson Beach RD for about a .2 miles, then turned left onto Deephole Point RD.

We hiked it for about a half mile. There were a lot of great conversations along the way. I talked with Mike K about what he had been up to the previous 40 years. And others were conversing as well. We stopped at a small pavillion to look through a pariscope out at Occoquan Bay. There was a small island in the middle of the Bay that Steve said was privately owned and the owner had parties and concerts there.

We then came to a blocked off area of Deephole Point RD. This closure was due to storm damage of some sort. So we turned left onto Fox RD and walked that about a half mile back to the parking lot. Just before the parking lot we turned right onto Bayview RD for a few hundred feet, then turned right onto Easy RD. Yes, it was easy to hike on. In another half mile or so we made it to Deephole Point. Nice views. We then turned left back onto Deephole Point RD and started a 2 mile trek of Deephole Point RD. What was interesting about this stretch was that there was a lot of interesting 'stuff' that had washed up from the bay along this road. The scenery was also very nice. lots of ducks and duck blinds not far from shore.

The scouts turned around and returned to their vehicle after about 15 minutes as they were ready to call it a day. The rest of us trudged on. We passed Charlie RD and could see a roadblock in the distance. So we could not return to our vehicles via this road. Then we passed Delta RD, which went back to Charlie RD and also would not get us back to our vehicles. We then got to Wildlife DR.

We thought that we could sneak by the Bald Eagle nest and get back to our vehicles. But the road was blocked and there were also signs that said that the area was video monitored. So we gave up on that idea, turned around and walked back to Wildlife DR. Now we had another dilema: There was a motorized gate leading out of the wildlife refuge. It was designed so that a vehicle approaching it would open the gate. But we were not a vehicle but six tired hikers that wanted to get back to their vehicles. We read on a sign at that gate that a magnetic switch sensed the metal in a vehicle and opened the gate.

But we were six tired hikers that wanted to get back to our vehicles. And there was no manual over-ride to open the gate. What do we do now? Retrace our steps 2.5 miles to get back to our vehicles? Call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to come let us out? We were getting worried. Then Steve saved the day by finding an old piece of rusted metal fence post and threw it on the ground and over the magnetic switch. Like magic the gate opened. We then gave Steve the trail name of 'MacGyver'.

So we walked Wildlife DR for about a mile, turned left on Dawson Beach RD, then reached our vehicles. Mike K's GPS said that we hiked about 4.92 miles total. We'll just embelish that number a bit and call it 5 miles.

This was a nice hike. It is nice to see an area that was commercially utilized return to nature. We do day hikes the first Saturday of each month. All are welcome to join us.

Here is some additional information about Occoquan National Wildlife Refuge:

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, VA Web Site

Wikipedia.org page on Occoquan National Wildlife Refuge, VA

Facebook page for Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, VA


More Pictures


Scouts examining old tortoise shell
  Scouts examining old tortoise shell.
   By Tim Young

Scouts examining old tortoise shell 2   Scouts examining old tortoise shell 2.
   By Tim Young

Scouts examining old tortoise shell 3   Scouts examining old tortoise shell 3.
   By Tim Young

Map showing all closed trails
  Map showing all closed trails.
  By U.S Fish & Wildlife Service

One of many interpretive signs
  One of many interpretive signs.
   By Mike Calabrese

View of Accoquan Bay, VA
  View of Accoquan Bay, VA.
   By Mike Calabrese


Hiking along Easy RD, VA
  Hiking along Easy RD, VA.
   By Mike Calabrese

Marsh along Deep Hole Point RD, VA
  Marsh along Deep Hole Point RD, VA.
   By Mike Calabrese



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